The State Department
announced today (Monday, Jan. 31) that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will fly from Ankara, Turkey, to Tel Aviv on Sunday, Feb. 6, and will stay overnight in Jerusalem. On Monday, Feb. 7, she will have meetings in Jerusalem and on the West
Bank before departing the area for Rome.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher briefed the media before the results were known of Rice's meeting at the
State Department with Dov Weissglas, a senior advisor to Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Rice
previously had met with Weissglas while she was serving in the White House
as National Security Advisor.
Boucher said the schedule of meetings during her two-day Israel/
Palestinian Authority swing still was being firmed up, but that it was expected that Rice would meet on the West Bank with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "and his team."
According to the State Department transcript of the briefing, Boucher said the
focus of Rice's meetings in Israel and the Palestinian Authority would be "to take advantage of opportunities between the Israelis and Palestinians, but also to continue and perhaps make even more concrete as we go forward the initiatives on modernization, reform and democracy in the Middle East that are embodied in such things as the Forum for the Future, the other G-8 outreach programs, the NATO outreach programs, the European outreach programs."
Today's meeting with Weissglas, said Boucher, is "a chance for her to get an understanding and I think express our appreciation for the kinds of efforts that the Israelis and the Palestinians have been undertaking together, which Mr. Weissglas and others have been very involved in; to hear directly from him about how this process has worked and many of the things they have achieved together so far, in terms of cooperation and where that process can go in the future, and a chance to talk to him about many of the continuing issues on the table in terms of the roadmap and proceeding forward."
When a journalist remarked that "the Israelis and Palestinians have been doing pretty well the last few days on their own," Boucher responded: " Frankly, they've been doing pretty well for the last few weeks, a few weeks, actually
— on their own, with help and encouragement from everyone, including us."